This time out we welcome two of the developers of DayZ, Matt Lightfoot and Dean “Rocket” Hall. The number of players they have acquired in the space of a few short months is simply astounding (more than EA still has for Star Wars the Old Republic). DayZ, as our listeners probably know, is the mod for Arma II that has had a runaway success. DayZ has been described by Kotaku as “probably one of the best zombie games ever made!”
It all began with an article I read over at Arstechnica called “Paging Doctor Wasteland“. The article told of a team of players in the Arma2 mod called DayZ (www.dayzmod.com). For those not already in the know think zombie apocalypse set in a post Soviet state. The more I read about DayZ the more I liked. I discussed it with Fran and I knew we had to invite members of the DayZ development team to be guests on our show (currently in editing). What we found after talking to founders Matt Lightfoot and Dean “Rocket” Hall floored us; not the least of which is the fact that the DayZ team has managed to rack up a better audience for their game than Electronic Arts has managed to hold on to for Star Wars the Old Republic. I will admit that at first I found the concept of permadeath a bit daunting. After all, not even Eve Online has dared attempt that. At one point Matt Lightfoot told me he asked Dean not to put in Permadeath. However, as Matt pointed out, now that they have reached nearly 1 million players he has been proven wrong.
As we learned from talking to Matt and Dean the point of the game was not merely survival but an attempt to evoke emotions – even bad ones. As Dean pointed out, when he was in the military he learned the techniques of survival, but nothing prepared him for the emotional reactions. And that it does aplenty.
The interest in DayZ that Fran and I originally shared was attempting to help people as had Doctor Wasteland. You see there are some medical treatments for which a player needs another player to provide. And so arises that need for virtual combat medics like Doctor Wasteland. What makes Doctor Wasteland such a rare occurrence is the fact that DayZ is so challenging – and that’s the way that Dean said he wanted it. He wanted a game that was a challenge and DayZ is one serious challenge. The DayZ web site warns you right up front that the average lifespan in game is 49 minutes.
Mind you Fran and I have both managed to far exceed the 49 minutes mark and stretch it into hours. We managed to learn how to survive the zombie apocalypse. We managed to learn how to survive in the wild without ever going near a city. But there is one thing we have not learned how to survive and that is snipers. I will admit that it is excruciatingly painful to get all set up, be crossing the landscape with your tent and medical supplies, only to have a sniper shoot you dead when you stop to eat a meal.
So our hat is off to Dr. Wasteland and all the other combat medics of DayZ. We don’t know how you do it (and we might never know) but you are better players than we are.
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